You might have noticed that I have been a little MIA from FashionFake recently, well that is because I finally visited Scotland! Liam and I took a long weekend to relax and explore the surroundings of Galloway, including St Johns Town of Dalry, Castle Douglas and the wildlife around the log cabin which we stayed at. Cloud Cuckoo Lodge was exactly as expected: a cosy wood cabin with a log burner, tucked up just on the edge of the Galloway National Forest Park. The log cabin is literally in the middle of nowhere with the closest town 3 miles down the road - so if you're after peace, quiet and fresh air I'd strongly recommend staying there. The hosts, John and Lesley, were absolutely fantastic and so accommodating which made the experience even better - and they even provide a hamper to get you started with freshly bakes bread which was delish! The lodge has 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen/dining area and a living room with a log burner making the lodge feel really cosy, especially in the colder months. The view from our bedroom window when we woke up and looked out were trees and mountains - it was great not to see presence of brick walls, masses of cables and other modern city devices. The pictures you see above of the scenery was right outside our door, and if explored further into the woods you can find even more beautiful photo ops.
On the first day we walked to St Johns Town of Dalry after lunch, just 3 miles away from the lodge. There is a grocery shop where you can pick up any necessities like breakfast ingredients, batteries for the cameras/flashlights and other useful objects. Opposite the store is a pub which (I think Liam would agree) is 10/10 for food, atmosphere and service. It's called The Clachan Inn and serves top quality food, the staff are all very friendly and accommodating. It's decorated in a cosy, country style and reminds you somewhat of a hunting lodge.
On the second day of our stay, we ventured to Castle Douglas (about 10 miles away from the lodge) which reminds me to warn you to absolutely have a car with you if you decide to visit Dalry because it's just so much easier to get around and explore different places. Castle Douglas is a bigger town with more options of food stores which include butchers and grocery stores, which means if you're a food pervert like me you'll immediately like the town, a supermarket, a small Boots where you can stock up on first aid equipment. I'm actually very happy to say that there were no casualties on this trip, not that I worried so much about Liam but I genuinely expected that at some point I will slip and fly off a cliff. I think I was safe as there were no cliffs around, only hills and cows and masses of sheep which still could have caused a catastrophic scenario. At the butchers, we picked up some fillet steaks and partridges which neither of us have had before but really wanted to try! I've eaten quail before and remember that to be quite nice so that's how imagined a partridge to be, and there were similarities but all I'd say is watch out for all the tiny bones all over! The steaks I couldn't fault (PS, Liam was doing all the cooking whilst I was being lazy with a glass of wine by the fire) and I think I've been spoilt into needing to get meat from the butchers now...luckily there's one two minutes away from where I live! It was such a relaxed evening to spent by the fire, and I think that's just how you feel overall when you're away in a place like this - just relaxed.
Our third day was mostly spent at an activity center down the road from Dalry where we practiced archery and took a couple of kayaks out onto the lake. Suggestions were made about going on climbing things and wires and crap, but as someone who is catastrophically scared of heights (I've only recently started braving the 8th floor of buildings) I said I'd be the bag holder. Not that I wouldn't want to try it, last time I went tree running I got stuck on the third level and one of the chaperons had to come and get me, I will have a go at climbing again just not this time.
Archery was so much fun, I really enjoyed the level of concentration that goes into planning where your arrow is going to strike and how pleasing it is when you hit a target. I managed to get one arrow right in the middle of the target, whilst Liam was scoring quick points by hitting all the targets, which included the most difficult ones like a bottle balanced on top of a target. There's only one phrase for people like him: showoff, but with a cause :)
Kayaking was a really relaxing experience, once I'd managed to push Liams kayak away from mine as there were threats being made about tipping my little kayak over. I don't think I would have cared much in the summer, but with freezing temperatures...nah thanks! We paddled into the middle of the lake and just sat and talked for a while. The lake was so still it was like a mirror image of the sky and the hills around us - it was beautiful and the photos don't even do it justice. That was one of my favourite parts of the trip. During our lake trip, we also saw something ridiculous - a hawk with a fish in its claws flying over our heads and next to him was a crow who was trying to steal the fish right out of his hands!
It was a good day, and we even met two doggies at the activity center which was a huge bonus for me as I'm ever so slightly obsessed with dogs - a Jack Russel called Coco and a gorgeous Springer Spaniel called Spock.
We were supposed to leave on Monday, so we planned a chilled day visiting some near by walks, like the Kite Trail which Liam found. We'd been out on the planes near the lodge, and also drove out to a forest which was really cute until it got dark and I started to get a little freaked out - also if you got in the colder months bring wellies or proper hiking boots as the amount of times I stepped into bogs is unbelievable! My poor Converse... Yes guys, I wore Converse. I'm not even going to explain my choice of footwear here.
We thought we'd have a lay in, go out on the trail and then come back to pack all our stuffs. Well, we found the trail but there was one specific viewpoint which sounded appealing so we went to find that and ended up somewhere up high on a hill in a place where I can only describe as a tree graveyard. I'm assuming this was the back of a factory which chops up trees to make logs, or to sell the wood on, but there was a clearing in the forest where the trees were just stumps. It was a weird atmosphere, I know people need wood and forests are kept alive by replanting trees, but just standing and looking at something like that was morbid. So we swiftly moved on and drove up to the lake where we kayaked to sit and watch the sunset - until we saw a sign for the viewpoint which we were looking for! It was an uphill climb and by the time we reached where we needed to be, it was dark. It was still a beautiful view and we heard the kites very close to us, so the climb was worth it. It was so late in the day that we decided to stay an extra night which Lesley and John kindly agreed to (thank you!). We spent the evening having dinner in the Clachan and then snuggled up by the fire with marshmallows.
Scotland is such a beautiful place, the people are so friendly and the local produce is just delish. I would love to go back there sometime soon and I'd definitely stay in the Cloud Cuckoo Lodge again as it's just the perfect retreat. Before we left, I read some entries in the guest book and it's the cutest thing ever! Apparently there's a squirrel who comes to the garden, the only squirrel we found was the one in the photo who lives on top of the fridge and we named Simon - the creepiest looking squirrel.
If you guys want to see more photos, pop by my Instagram account! Have you gone on a trip away recently? Where was it?